Keep your eyes peeled. A new poster, featuring rapper Big Daddy Kane, claims that “real MCs” are absent from the world of modern hip-hop. Zeps, a hip-hop artist turned children’s book author from Brooklyn, is the guy who made the poster, and according to him, there’s a new trend to blame for the disappearance of authentic artists. It’s that thing where, instead of singing during live performances, rappers just yell sloppily over the studio version of their song. He said his poster should be considered a public service announcement.
It reads: “There is a horrible new trend among today’s rappers: RHYMING OVER VOCALS LIVE. This is unacceptable. You are ruining the essence of live hip-hop, it’s lazy and means you have no stage presence.” The 36-year-old has been putting up signs with this message for a few years, and said that there’s a whole generation of rappers who think this style of performing is cool. But according to Zeps, it’s taboo and makes you look foolish.
“I’m a fan of hip hop first. So, when I would see people perform live, it started to really bother me that a lot of industry and famous rappers would be on an award show rapping over the whole song,” he said. “Then the young kids see that, and the young rappers think it’s OK.” The posters are his way of taking a stance on behalf of the “old heads” of hip hop.
He said the 20-year-old Brooklyn rapper, Desiigner, who is often derided by the rap cognoscenti for shouting incoherently on his tracks, is one of the main culprits. “I would call it a crisis. Maybe an epidemic, because it spreads. If our kids keep seeing other people do it, they think it’s the norm and that it’s acceptable.” Desiigner was recently booed off the court after performing a half-time version of his song, “Panda,” at a Philadelphia 76ers game. I found it hilarious.
Hip-hop artists often make excuses for why they perform this way, said Zeps; they say their hype man sucks, they smoke cigarettes, they lost the beat, or their cardio sucks. But in his mind, there’s really no excuse.
“Hip hop karaoke exists and some random business dude can do a whole Wu-Tang by himself, over the beat, and kill all eight verses, you should be able to do your own music on stage without vocals,” he said. Which is a pretty good point. I absolutely crushed a karaoke version of Elvis Costello’s “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” last weekend. (And I only consider myself a semi-professional rapper.)
In case you’re wondering, Zeps is not the mastermind behind that “missing” poster featuring Rep. Paul Ryan. We’re still on the lookout for the person who posted that one.